Stig of the Dump by Clive King

Stig of the Dump – Clive King
My Rating – Rainy Day Read
Suggested Audience– Teen Boys
Page Count– 157
Publication– 1962

Barney decided he wasn’t dead. He didn’t even seem to be very much hurt, he turned his head and looked around him. It was dark in this den after looking at the white chalk and he couldn’t see what sort of place it was. It seemed to be partly a cave dug into the chalk, partly a shelter built out of the mouth of the cave…

Background

When Barney falls into a disused chalk pit (now only used as a dumping ground for broken, unwanted junk), he is amazed to find a caveman living amongst the rubbish! Although he doesn’t speak any English, the caveman is a friendly young boy and he and Barney quickly become friends and embark on a series of wonderful adventures.

My Thoughts

When you read this novel, you need to remember that it was written over 50 years ago. Today’s modern child may be appalled by the idea of discarded junk being tossed unceremoniously into a disused chalk pit and may be surprised by the advent of a caveman living amongst the detritus and say “but that’d never happen!” But once you get over the logistics of this novel, you will be completely drawn into the world of Stig and the adventures he and Barney experience.

I think a modern reader would be fascinated by this book; some of the ideas explored are quite revolutionary considering when this novel was first written. For instance, many of the adventures hinge on Stig and Barney using some of the discarded items in the chalk pit to build items. It is a very environmentally friendly concept (without forcing this ideal onto the reader or being superior about it) and as an adult reader, I couldn’t help smile. When I was a child, much play was spent building items out of junk (with varying success – who can forget the billycart which had its brakes fail halfway down the hill…), but a modern child might not think in this way as a matter of course. So as an adult, I appreciated how Stig of the Dump may inspire a “new” way of thinking for children whose minds and imaginations are somewhat quashed by mind numbing computer games.

Barney looked at one side of the den, the darkest side, which really needed windows. It was built of wooden boxes from the dump, bottoms outward, open tops inward. He took the digging tool and knocked the bottom out of one. There was now an open square where daylight came in. But so did the wind, and Stig didn’t seem at all pleased at sitting in a draught.
Stigs like to be snug, thought Barney.
He carried the jars in and stacked them in the frame of the box. They fitted quite well, the light came in, but the draught came in too…

Each chapter in Stig of the Dump is a new adventure, making this a great novel for someone who wants bite-sized chunks to read instead of a long narrative. It’s perfect for bedtime reading or helping a child who might not be the most confident reader. A more advanced reader might not enjoy this novel, purely because it doesn’t offer a challenge, but nonetheless it is a very enjoyable story for a pre-teen audience.

Where Can I Get It?

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Starstruck in Seattle by Juliet Madison

Starstruck In Seattle – Juliet Madison ( web | twitter | facebook )
Publication: 2013, Escape Publishing (received through Netgalley, thanks!)
Page Count: 65
My Rating: Good Weekend Read
Suggested Audience: Women

Background

Working in a small role on a leading television drama, actras Anna Hilford dreams of dating the dashing actor Karl Drake. Unsure how to win his affection, Anna seeks the help of love-coach Lulu, from LuluTheLoveAngel.com, hoping to win Karl’s affection forever. But Lulu has more power over Anna’s love life than she realises, and fate has its own ideas…

My Thoughts

The blurb of this novella reads as “A sparkling story from the Queen of Ro-magic comedy!”. While I love reading women’s literature, I try to stay away from the ultra-romantic, hard-to-believe plot lines. As soon as I read the blurb, I immediately thought that Starstruck In Seattle would definitely not be for me, and very nearly didn’t read it – what a shame that would have been, because this was a wonderfully light and truly sparkling read!

Given my expectation that this would be a heavily romantic plot, I didn’t expect to be drawn into the narrative as much as I was. Similar to other online reviews I have read for Starstruck in Seattle, my main critiscm was that I wanted a longer narrative! I was thoroughly hooked by the characters and the twists in the tale, and I just wished that Juliet Madison had written MORE!!

My main reason for this critique is that the twist in the tale regarding Lulu (which I won’t be divulging here!) was over too quickly (although part of me says “well it IS a novella, what do you expect?”). By the second chapter, you find out exactly what is happening, and I personally would have preferred a bit more suspense and mystery.

The opening lines detail an email to Lulu from Anna, asking for advice and help regarding her love life. There is something deliciously voyeuristic about reading someone’s email to an Agony Aunt column, and this was not a let down. I loved this opening for a novella – it was a wonderful way of getting to know Anna’s character quickly and succinctly.

Where Can I Get It?

Starstruck in Seattle is not currently selling on Book Depository. As soon as it is stocked, I will link the page on Book Depository to this page.

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